Relief for US farmers as lawmakers set to vote on Farm Bill that includes subsidies and supports
US lawmakers have reached an agreement on the Farm Bill that drops a proposal to tighten food stamps restrictions backed by President Donald Trump, and are looking to vote on it this week, according to congressional staffers.
The agreement between Republicans and Democrats on the crucial piece of legislation caps a months-long bitter debate, and offers a spot of financial certainty to farmers suffering from the impact of the U.S. trade war with China. Programs covered by the bill include crop subsidies and support to growers seeking access to export markets.
The final text shows Republicans in the lame duck Congress had to walk back from some demands, the biggest being the Trump-backed proposal to impose stricter worker requirements for recipients of food stamps.
That debate had delayed the legislation beyond the most recent version’s expiration in September, and was finalized only after Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives in the November midterm congressional elections.
Food stamps, as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is known, are used by more than 40 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the total U.S. population.
The move to tighten eligibility criteria failed to garner enough support in the Senate, and Trump blamed Democrats opposed to the tighter restrictions for stalling the bill.
It was certainly a compromise,” a staffer at the House Agricultural Committee said. “We’ve had significant differences in virtually every title and had robust debate about them.”
China, normally the top buyer of U.S. farm produce, has been absent from the market after the imposition of tariffs due to the trade war between Washington and Beijing.